India v West Indies, 3rd ODI, Ahmedabad December 5, 2011

Sammy rolls back the years

ESPNcricinfo presents the Plays of the Day from the third ODI between India and West Indies in Ahmedabad

The surprise outswingers

In his opening spell, Umesh Yadav - hitherto known for his lively pace - showed a new dimension to his bowling. In his second over, he pitched the ball right up to Danza Hyatt, and got it to curl menacingly in the air and square up the batsman. In his next over, Yadav repeated the dose to Marlon Samuels, as the ball snaked in towards leg stump before straightening alarmingly. Both deliveries were clocked at less than 120 kph, but they weren't slower balls or cutters. They were genuine outswingers delivered with a loose, upright wrist and perfect seam position, reminiscent of Irfan Pathan in his pomp.

The clumsy collision

Danza Hyatt got one on his pads in the ninth over, and duly clipped it through the leg side. Ravindra Jadeja at midwicket and Gautam Gambhir at mid-on converged to chase the ball as it sped away towards the boundary. Normally, one of the two would have fallen back, allowing the other to slide and scoop the ball back to him. This time, however, neither seemed keen to back off. Jadeja, who was marginally ahead, put in the slide and came up in one smooth motion, ready to throw, only to see Gambhir run straight into him. The fielders shared a smile on the way back to their fielding positions.

The cat-and-mouse game

West Indies' slog-fest was only beginning as Vinay Kumar ran in to bowl at Andre Russell in the 47th over. Russell tried to scramble Vinay's lines by prancing across his stumps early, before going back to his natural stance as Vinay got into his delivery stride. Vinay tried to go one better with his variations, and attempted a slower ball, but the execution was all awry. The ball was dropped very short, almost outside the tramlines on the edge of the pitch, and went through at 85.5 kph - a speed the offspinner R Ashwin exceeded regularly during his spell.

The blasts from the past

The current West Indies side may not have the innate flair of its predecessors from the 1970s and 80s, but for a fleeting couple of moments in the 49th over, Darren Sammy transformed into one of those immortal Caribbean charmers. Abhimanyu Mithun delivered a length ball wide of off stump, and Sammy moved across emphatically before levering it on the up with an astoundingly loose grip to pick up six over the covers. The next ball was a high full toss on the hips, and Sammy's response was even more audacious. He stayed in the crease side on, and swished the bat in a clean circular arc to send the ball disappearing over midwicket. It wasn't quite Viv Richards smashing Mike Hendrick, but it was not a bad imitation.

The opening blow

Rohit Sharma has now made six half-centuries in eight outings against West Indies this year, and has developed enough familiarity with the attack to routinely open his account with a six. In the previous game, he started off by slamming a bouncer over the square leg boundary. His first runs today came in even more classy fashion. He leaned out languidly to a flighted ball from Sunil Narine, got close enough to the flight to negate his mystery variations, and lofted inside out to pick up six over extra cover.

The redemption

Life came a full circle for Sammy at Motera, and then some more. After his batting heroics and the early wickets, he once again slipped into a defensive approach to allow Rohit and R Ashwin build a partnership with singles and twos. To make matters worse, Sammy handed India needless lifelines by dropping both batsmen in quick succession. Rohit cashed in to move towards a fighting century, when Sammy got a shot at redemption. On 95, Rohit pushed a ball to Sammy at mid-on and hurried across for a tight single. Sammy swooped on the ball and hurled down the stumps on the full with a powerful throw that caught Rohit well short. Sammy reacted with a roar and a pumping of the fists that conveyed the sort of pressure he was under, before breaking into a smile that signalled welcome relief.

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 7, 2011, 22:39 GMT

    We need to be reasonable. Many better players than Sammy have struggled with captaincy. Kim Hughes, Petersen, Sachin, M Yusuf even Sobers & Lara to name a few. Chanderpaul realized he wasn't managing the captaincy & he stepped down. It takes a real man to do that but look @ his batting since then till now? WICB & selectors made a big mistake but they won't admit they were wrong since they want someone to manipulate & Sammy is too short sighted & stubborn to see that & admit that he can't manage. They can't give the captaincy back to Gayle now, but they shouldn't have sacked him in the first place. He was putting out the effort. He could still have done more but he was trying. I may even dare to say he tried harder than Lara ever did. The fight we showed in Australia & when we beat England + to a lesser extent the wins vs. South Africa in South Africa & the series vs Sri Lanka & Australia at home that we competed well in & his improved batting average all support this claim.

  • Dummy4 on December 7, 2011, 21:41 GMT

    I do not hate Sammy. As a fan of West Indies cricket I just like to see sensible decisions being made. As i matter of fact I am concerned about Sammy. He has been put between a rock & a very hard place or as we say in Jamaica ' given a basket to carry water' . He has been given a position he didnt ask for as leader of a team that arguably he is struggling to justify his place as a member in much more as captain. Not many people could maintain their sanity under such working conditions.I strongly doubt I could. Kudos to him but how much longer can he do it? How much more can he take? It has already started to affect his batting & his catching. He used to be a decent fielder but now we can hardly go throw an innings without him dropping 2 or 3 catches! Lets face it. His tactical & field placing skill as captain leave much to be desired to say the least. Is it not plausible that we could get much more out of Sammy if he was not under the stress of captaincy?

  • Dummy4 on December 7, 2011, 21:05 GMT

    Remember when the team was on strike in 2009 & we had to pick a 2nd string team vs Bangladesh & for the Champions Trophy? Who did WICB choose to be captain over Sammy? Floyd Reifer enough said. Now between then & the Sri Lankan tour last year what did Sammy do to show that he has improved from not being good enough to captain a 3rd string West Indies team to good enough to lead the official West Indies team? did he win any regional tournaments as captain of Windward islands? did he perform outstandingly as a player in any of the regional tournaments? was he able to hold a place in the full strength West Indies team? No. So on what reasonable basis was the decision to give him the captaincy in all formats made?

  • Mohan on December 6, 2011, 22:11 GMT

    The windies have become a joke. Even the 3rd ODI they just played it was not a convincing win at all. Rohit brought the win within distance. The point I'm writing about is different though - just how can Windies play without Gayle ? They have deprived millions of fans of a Gayle - Gayle at his best is Calypso spirit. Carribean spirit. If Rampaul sits aside for a couple of matches this current Windies team is going to collapse. Shaem on Otis. Shame on Sammy for their petty leaderships and pettier vision.

  • rupert on December 6, 2011, 22:07 GMT

    I believe that chaps like Giovaughn Wilson and his ilk have a vitriolic,and baseless hatred of Darren Sammy.They seem to forget that under captains of recent past the WI teams never showed any resourcefulness or hunger to win.It should be realised that since his acension to the captaincy Sammy has been the most vilified and abused West Indies captain ever.Fortunately the more level headed and positive thinkers among us realise that the captain is the lynchpin of a team's performance.I admit that his batting has fallen off unfortrunately.However his heart is definitely West Indian and he has been able to mould his team into a fighting unit.The pressure on him has to be enormous and these negative un-West Indians and the idiotic blogs do not help.Otis Gibson is building a team under a committed captain.There will be room enough for the Gayle's and others Please give Sammy and our fledging unit a chance

  • Dummy4 on December 6, 2011, 21:29 GMT

    Gio Wilson really? Fidel looks like a captain to you? Rampaul looks like a captain to you?

  • Dummy4 on December 6, 2011, 20:18 GMT

    WICB Gave Sammy a wicker basket to carry water. Sammy should be man enough to admit that not only is his captaincy affecting the side it is affecting him in his fielding & batting. If captaincy is over rated he can step down & let someone else like Chanderpaul Fidel or Rampaul captain the team

  • Dummy4 on December 6, 2011, 20:09 GMT

    there are 3 Factors That allow Sammy to have better statistic than the other bowlers

    1-Batsmen tend to underestimate him because of his lack of pace & as such tend to play rash shots & get out.

    2-The fields he sets as captain are more suited to his style of bowling than to the other bowlers therefore they tend to be more expensive bowlers

    3- The Fielders especially Sammy drop many more catches when Fidel, Rampaul, Roach & Bishoo are bowling than when Sammy is bowling & often times the batsmen that he drops get out off his bowling after they have had their fill of runs.

  • Michael on December 6, 2011, 18:26 GMT

    @ The Light........and Ramdin rose up after 18 matches to get a top score of 38 against poor bowling.I hope we always get this bowling in the middle of the innings,and we can wait for 18 matches for a player to perform.You are in the habit of starting sentences,and not finishing them,big man ! too are in the habit of starting sentences and not finishing them.You should also have's also the occasional flash by Ramdin,who also needs to be dropped !The two of you should immeadiately correct that anomaly,or risk being labelled as bias or insular.Those of you who expected Narine to play from the first ODI's,really DO NOT KNOW anything about cricket,or how squads and final XI's are picked !In hindsight,I agree that Narine should have been picked from the first ODI's,and that he is a much better spinner than Martin.......furthermore Martin,should not even have been there......but that is not how the WI operate !Players always have to wait their turn,ask Lara!

  • Srinivas on December 6, 2011, 15:32 GMT

    @Sammy haters, get off his back. He's trying his best. Windies will only help themselves if some of their players have the same never die attitude as Sammy. Next, so what happened to all those over the top posts that we will beat Windies 5-0? Let's respect our opponents first. Shall we? Imagine our team in Australia....signs aren't good at all. Circa English summer??? I hope not :(

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